The case of Ingredient Branding
In the current era of globalization and ever-increasing levels of mass production, saturation has affected all market segments, creating a growing need for communication strategies capable of differentiating brands from their competitors.
Today, against this backdrop, highlighting products’ high quality core components takes on new meaning in communication terms, allowing companies to differentiate themselves in a world where consumers have become more and more demanding about the products they buy.
Since the 1990s, ingredient branding has established itself as a common marketing strategy, involving many market sectors, from clothing (textile and fibres), to IT and high tech, optics (lenses), food and beverage (functional food) and the automotive industry.
Today, promoting ingredient branding strategies has become a new challenge for PR professionals, which need to focus on both suppliers’ and manufacturers’ benefits accrued through using modern and up-to-date communication tools.
Marketers talk about ingredient branding as a win-win situation, a marriage of convenience where both parties gain profit, both in terms of image enhancement and improvements in economic efficiency, because often the supplier and the manufacturer share production, promotion, advertising and distribution costs.
Savvy manufacturers of raw materials have leveraged ingredient branding strategies for many years, succeeding in enhancing their image by giving products quality assurance and added value; as well as becoming a crucial ‘plus’ and an advantage, in promotional terms.
How does an ingredient become a brand? By establishing successful communication strategies that involve more than just putting a logo on the front of the end product, but talking directly to consumers, educating potential buyers on the benefit of purchasing a product with added credibility. Only educated costumers will be able to see the differences that the ingredient component will make in a product.
At one end, producers of raw ingredients benefit from the association with high profile, niche products by gaining wider visibility; at the other, suppliers improve credibility and boost differentiation by giving their product a distinct characteristic that is difficult for competitors to imitate.
Research, technological advancement and changing perceptions from a single product to innovative solutions are all key- aspects that need to be highlighted when communicating about an ingredient brand, concepts that become tangible and more easily perceivable by consumers if associated with an end product
In a world invaded by millions of products of questionable quality, consumers are willing to pay more for something they can trust - as expressed by the concept of ‘winning for paying’ - making this type of communication strategy advantageous in a commercial sense as well as justifying the high-end market positioning to consumers.
Maintaining the fine equilibrium of this winning combination is the task of PR professionals who need to find new solutions and identify new potential co-branding activities continuously, with the distinct advantage of having the chance to broaden their own opportunities by establishing new business relationships.
Is guerrilla marketing ethical?
‘Guerrilla marketing’ is a phrase coined and defined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book Guerrilla Marketing. The term has since entered the popular vocabulary to also describe aggressive, unconventional marketing methods generally. Typically, guerrilla marketing is unexpected and surprising, where consumers are often targeted when and where they least expect it, which can make the idea, product or service that’s being marketed more memorable, generate buzz, and even spread virally.
By its very nature, guerrilla marketing demands an element of ‘surprise’. This brings an element of chaos into the marketing mix, because – as we all know – a nice surprise for some can be a nasty surprise for others. Fundamentally, guerrilla marketing is a risky business as companies large and small have found out to their cost – see here for an example. I certainly believe guerrilla marketing can be ethical, but only if it’s smart. That is – if the initial thinking is correct and accompanied by good intent, if the concept is inventive, interesting, and creative and delivered to perfection. However, the ’ethics’ of a marketing campaign can break down irreparably if the initial thinking is flawed, the intent to deceive or if the guerrilla marketing process or delivery fails in some way.
Surely what is completely unethical is when an organisation hides the truth or encourages the belief that something is real and authentic when it really isn’t. To me, that’s when guerrilla marketing can – and indeed should – damage an organisation’s reputation. An example is the story of the singer Marié Digby uncovered by Ethan Smith and Peter Lattman of the Wall Street Journal, check it out here.
Another is the case of ‘LonelyGirl15’ – YouTube phenomena, later revealed as a professional actress and represented by an agency. Don’t believe everything you see or hear – there are enough examples out there. It’s a shame because it tarnishes the reputations and otherwise really good work of the majority of marketing professionals. But with the web and social networks becoming the playground for guerrilla marketeers, online consumers are going to need to keep their wits about them.
I don’t think these examples would have been welcomed by Jay Conrad Levinson into the guerrilla marketing family because as he so rightly emphasises: the Guerrilla Marketeer must “deliver the goods”. In his ‘The Guerrilla Marketing Handbook’, he states: “In order to sell a product or a service, a company must establish a relationship with the customer. It must build trust and support. It must understand the customer’s needs, and it must provide a product that delivers the promised benefits.”
Smart thinking combined with simple marketing truths: ‘establish relationships, build trust, understand the customer and deliver the promise’. If your guerrilla marketing campaign is doing anything other than these, you’re doomed to failure.
Other blogs on this subject:
Examples of guerrilla marketing:
More links on guerrilla marketing: